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LETTER: The ABCs of trade agreements: Oppose TPA

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VALLEY CITY, N.D. — A nation probably never has drowned in alphabet soup, but one might with the ever-increasing “free” trade agreements.

Such agreements are hardly “free,” given their non-elected bodies with unconstitutional sovereignty-draining grants of lawmaking powers. Nor have they yielded increases in U.S. production, exports or high-paying jobs.

In 1993, the North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA started our downward spiral of moving manufacturing and jobs to other countries. Then came GATT — the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade — which gave the World Trade Organization or WTO the authority to override our country’s decisions.

NAFTA begat CAFTA, the agreement with Central America. (There also were GATS, TRIP and TRIMS, by the way.)

Those have worked so well (for some, I guess) that we’re now negotiating TTP — the Trans Pacific Partnership — and TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, with the European Union or EU.

Now the most important initials for the United States are TPA — Trade Promotion Authority, or “fast track.” President Barack Obama, like his predecessors, wants Congress to have very limited debate and then quick for/against votes on agreements, with no amendments even getting considered.

Were our Founding Fathers wrong to have the Constitution stipulate that ALL legislative powers be in Congress, or to assign Congress the power to regulate commerce with nations? (After all, we certainly can trust whatever a president decides, right?)

No wonder even liberals such as Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., as well as progressive House Democrats are joining with tea party Republicans against ceding more power to the president by giving him TPA.

Tell Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., as well as Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., to oppose TPA and do their jobs. Otherwise, we may yet drown in alphabet soup.

Duane Stahl

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